Along with social media changes and advances, there appears to be a new certification program coming around each and every day. Everyone has their own certification for their platform or company. As a professor, it’s sometimes hard to decide which ones to invest in and look at for incorporating into your class for your students. One of the areas that is in constant focus and discussion are what are some of the training tools, simulations, and resources available right now for educators to use when teaching social media.

I am really thankful for the opportunity to bounce around these ideas and questions with my fellow colleagues. The Social Media Professor Community group on Facebook has been a great way to bounce around ideas on how to engage our students in our courses, updating on new trends, and sharing resources. The group now (which started in the fall) has over 180 professors and professionals who are active in social media – wow! That’s very cool.

With that being said, here are some of the ones we have seen be implemented in social media classes across the nation (and world):

Hootsuite Academy

Got to give a S/O to some of the best professionals in the business! I have been using Hootsuite as a component for years now for my social media class. This program is comprehensive in looking at not only how to use the social media management tool, but it also is expanded to looking at case studies and best practices for social media. Being part of this program as well as doing research on this topic has been extremely rewarding for not only myself, but for my students and fellow colleagues in the field.

Another thing to point out here related to Hootsuite is the fact they have multiple education certificates that could be taken advantage of. Their new social media marketing program allows a focus in applying strategies for specific platforms and areas of social media. Then, there is the Advanced Social Media Strategy course where you get to get more experience of higher level of creative execution and innovation of best practices related to social media strategy.


I think this is a very interesting program to look at and use for the simulation activities. If you do not have a client for class but want to have the students actually work through how they would apply the concepts they are learning in class on social media, this may be a program you may want to check out. I see this as a benefit for courses that may be tied into specific areas like digital marketing or even PR management to some degree (or a specialty course looking at social media management and strategies).

Microsoft Social Engagement + Google Analytics

If you are covering SEO or anything related to digital media in your course, you will want to have your students go through the Google Analytics certification process.

This is good not only for teaching students about the various components of SEO, but this also shows them how social and digital need to be connected. Plus, more jobs are essentially asking for professionals to have this level of skills (along with graphic design) here for their work.

Another program to look at is what Microsoft has come up with for their Social Engagement program. Lots of ebooks and videos to review and take advantage of here. You may want to check out what Matt Kushin wrote about his experience in this program for his students.

Adobe Certified

Adobe is one of my favorite brands and they have mastered the area of education and training of their software programs as well as providing great resources here on how to use and apply these into your profession. There are many different trainings you can do based on the software program you want to focus on (ex. Photoshop, etc), but they have other programs that may be of use here for you and your university to take advantage of.

Facebook Blueprint + Creative Hub

If you are integrating paid media into your class, you will need to look at Facebook Blueprint and Creative Hub from Facebook. Both are tied here to paid advertising for the social networking platform. What Facebook Blueprint allows you to do is go through various modules and sessions related to designing, implementing and the tools to implement an advertising campaign on Facebook.

However, after you go through the training, you need to have a place to create some ads to “mock up” and share/discuss before they go live. This is where Creative Hub comes into play and this allows teams to brainstorm and discuss what are some of the various ways these could be designed and executed.

Hubspot Certification

Matt Kushin has a great post on this certification and how it can be useful for certain classes and for students. I have not personally done this certification, but I have had many students (former and graduate students) who have and they found it to be useful. What is good to note is the fact there are some specific certifications they offer that are free (that’s always nice to hear!) and there are some that are available only for their partners (which seems to be standard).

Depending on the overview of the class and skills you want students to walk away with, there may be some benefits here (especially for some strategy, marketing, and even PR courses) here for students to look at taking advantage of some of these opportunities.


I have been a fan of this tool for years, and it is a great way to engage students in looking at engagement, influence, and provide opportunities to integrate data within a social media audit if necessary. While Klear focuses on three platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), it still is a great tool to share with students so they are able to see the ways in which they can analyze and determine which audiences, users, and influencers they may need to engage with for a potential social media campaign.

Plus, this is a great tool for a competitive analysis across these three platforms! I was very impressed to see the level of detail here associated with what you could do to compare and contrast the different accounts to your client of focus. We are using Klear for #Freberg17 as one of the tools to evaluate and integrate as part of the research component of the social media campaign assignment for class.

This term, we also have been able to use Sysomos thanks to the initiative that was launched last year at AEJMC. Unfortunately, the Sysomos in the Classroom program will no longer be around after this year.


You may be looking at all of these programs and be asking yourself: Okay, which one(s) should I really implement as part of my social media course?

My answer: Depends on what learning objectives you want to accomplish and what skills you want your students to have once they leave your class.

It really all depends on you and your department. However, if possible, exposing students to more tools and programs will allow them to add more training to their resume and toolkit. You also want to make sure you are listening to what the practitioners and industry professionals are looking for as well. There may be an opportunity here for a new program or tool. The possibilities are endless, and like social media, the tools and certification programs will continue to evolve.

By adding these tools and skills, they will continue to be marketable as a social media professional in the workplace. It would be difficult to implement every one of these in one class. But implementing them across your curriculum – that’s more achievable.

Hope you are having a great day!

Best Wishes,